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October 2013

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Christine Pynaker

First District International Representative Christine Pynaker retired effective Aug. 1.

Sister Pynaker began working for Alberta Government Telephones in 1979 but did not become a member of Calgary Local 348 until three years later when she was finally asked to join.

"I said, 'We have a union?' I had no idea because it was way too quiet," Pynaker said. "I said sign me up because we really needed a union."

The 180 workers in Pynaker's unit, all women, were subject to punitive treatment over bathroom breaks, including a pregnant worker who was told she had over-used the toilet.

"A lot of them were young mothers who couldn't just quit," Pynaker said. "I hate seeing people bullied and I was young, didn't have kids and was a bit of a rebel. I had no fear."

Pynaker became the shop steward and tried to negotiate an end to the policy. When that failed, she secretly photocopied pages from the bathroom break book and leaked them to reporters. The story drew national attention, and the book disappeared.

"That was Sister Pynaker's first successful fight for the right of our telecom members in Canada to be treated with the dignity and respect that is their right, her first of many such fights," said First District International Vice President Bill Daniels. "She helped improve the working lives of thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people."

Soon after that victory, Pynaker became a business representative for Local 348, then assistant business manager, negotiating for hundreds of operators working in conditions that one newspaper, during the bathroom book episode, had compared to a sweat shop.

In 1994, Pynaker was appointed an International Representative in the First District, where she spearheaded a successful national campaign that ended discrimination against pregnant women.

In 1997 Pynaker helped organize Canada's first, and so far only, national IBEW women's conference.

"The women's conference in Washington, D.C., is fantastic, the best conference within the union. There is such enthusiasm and energy, information sharing and we learn from each other," Pynaker said. "But women in Canada want a women's conference in Canada. It is needed."

In the final years of her career, Pynaker became the first privacy officer at the First District, drafting the union's policy to protect member information and going after companies that violated Canadian privacy law.

Pynaker says that when then-International President J.J. Barry hired her, he told her not to forget her roots.

"It was quite profound and I have always remembered and lived by it," Pynaker said.

On behalf of the entire IBEW membership and staff, the officers wish Sister Pynaker a long, healthy and rewarding retirement.


Christine Pynaker

Ernest J. Viveiros

The IBEW is saddened to report the Aug. 30 death of retired Second District International Representative Ernest Viveiros. He was 85.

A veteran of the U.S. Army and the Navy who served in World War II and the conflict in Korea, Brother Viveiros was initiated into Fall River, Mass., Local 437 in 1951. (The local union was amalgamated into Brockton Local 223 in 1988.)

He was an inside wireman who served as business manager from 1966 to 1972, when he was appointed Second District International Representative. He also served as an officer of the Fall River Building Trades and the Fall River Central Labor Council and as a member of the Fall River Redevelopment Authority Advisory Board.

As an International Representative, he served as administrative assistant to then-Second District International Vice President Paul Loughran from 1990 until his retirement in 1993.

A longtime member of the Board of Trustees of Bristol Community College, he received its Citizen of the Year award in 1991 for his contributions to the advancement of the college.

Brother Viveiros was married for 58 years to his wife, Shirley, and leaves behind a daughter, sons, a sister, several grandchildren and nieces and nephews. The IBEW officers, staff and membership send our condolences to his family and friends.


Ernest J. Viveiros